What are varicose veins?
Most people know what varicose veins look like -- those ropey lumps under the skin, usually on the calves, but many may experience symptoms before they are visible.
If your legs feel heavy or ache, and if you have a recurrent rash or you may have varicose veins forming even if they are not visible.
As valves stop working properly in leg veins, blood pools to form varicose veins. Because it is not circulating properly, blood then runs low on oxygen and becomes acidic. This can cause symptoms such as pain, throbbing, fatigue, cramps, burning sensations and restless legs.
A strong family history is a common finding in patients with varicose veins. Females are also more likely to be affected than males, due to factors such as fluctuations in hormones during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Pregnancy in itself causing an increase in volume, and pressure on the leg veins, so varicose veins during pregnancy are common. Other predisposing factors include obesity, immobility, standing occupations, previous deep-venous thrombosis and leg injuries.
If varicose veins become symptomatic or require treatment to prevent or cure varicose eczema or ulcers then a number of treatments are available. A medical consultation and ultrasound is performed to determine the most appropriate method of treatment. Endovenous Ablation (EVA) is the process by which veins are closed shut using either laser energy or heat. Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) involves a small laser fibre inserted painlessly into the vein under local anaesthetic. Laser energy is then delivered into the vein causing it to collapse and seal shut. Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) uses a catheter inserted into the vein to deliver heat to the inside wall of the veins causing them to shrink down by ablating them. Both these methods are done without general anesthetic and only require injections of local anesthesia around the vein being treated.
Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (UGS) involves the use of ultrasound to precisely locate abnormal veins and to inject them with a medicine called a sclerosant which irritates the wall of the vein and causes it to collapse and forces them to close down. A combination of both EVA and UGS is commonly used. Treatment takes approximately one hour per leg, after which medical grade compression stockings are worn for two weeks. Patients can walk immediately after treatment and are encouraged to walk to speed recovery. Patients have a follow-up treatment in the first couple of weeks and at six weeks, then another one a year after treatment to ensure treatment has been effective.
Some medical insurance companies may cover the cost of consultations and treatment for varicose veins.
Your first step to healthier legs is to call for a vein consultation with Dr Deshpande. During this hour consultation she will take a detailed history about your veins and general health. She will then assess your veins using an ultrasound machine and discuss the best treatment options for you.